NEWS UPDATE — Good to see ARRL amongst others now picking up on the original story. Fingers crossed for 4U1UN on air soon and regularly.

Meanwhile, on behalf of readers, having left emails with James, K2QI regarding how to become a supporter or fundraiser of 4U1UN, we are eagerly awaiting his reply. For sure there’s definitely a lot of interest in making 4U1UN become more active and I think we all want to help.

JULY 27, 2018 — I’d like to thank James, K2QI current President of UNARC/4U1UN for his detailed and informative reply:

I’m the current president of UNARC/4U1UN. What Doug wrote is true; red tape has hampered the club’s return to the air. It’s taken us years just to get the administration and security to allow us to resume beacon operations. Security protocols became much tighter after 9/11. And when renovations to the Secretariat were completed, staff were no longer permitted to engage in any activities above the SG’s floor.

That said, we’re slowly working to restore operations. Unfortunately, fully manned ops from the old 41st floor annex is now a bygone conclusion. Any such activity from the club will have to be done remotely from a broadcast booth that was loaned to us by the UN’s broadcast services section. The good news however is that new equipment was recently donated to the club that would make that a reality. The transceiver, amplifier, and associated network equipment is now in place. We also had a dedicated closed network line installed primarily for that purpose. The only remaining thing left to do is install the antenna and begin testing which should be happening sometime in early August.

I know many have been waiting for the return of 4U1UN. No one wants to see it back on the air more than I do, but please understand that support for amateur radio operations by the administration has waned over the years. To get where we are today took a lot of cajoling and negotiation. On top of that, the club’s membership has also reduced in number, and with everything at the UN now requiring funding, the club simply doesn’t have the budget to pay for services that once used to be provided for free. The past 10 years has essentially been a one man show. It doesn’t help that my workload has increased significantly requiring me to travel much more frequently than before, taking even more time away from being able to manage the club’s affairs.

To all those waiting to hear from us, I sincerely apologise and ask that you be a little more patient. But I do promise that 4U1UN will be back on the air soon.

JULY 25, 2018 — Situated in the heart of New York City is the United Nations Headquarters Building. This particular “DXCC entity” (4U1UN) is ranked at #34 most wanted on Club Log.

Read that again – #34 most wanted.

Put in perspective and it’s more wanted than Swains Island (KH8/S), Kermadec (ZL8), Tokelau (ZK3) to name a few “rare” ones. How can this be?

4U1UN has a QRZ page (last updated in 2015) and a Facebook page (last post over 12 months ago). Heck, it even has a dedicated webpage (last news in 2015). Indeed, there was even an update on DX-World in March 2017 – see here.  Why the lack of interest?

Far be it from me to criticize the US – because as we all know it’s the “Superpower of the World” – but I can’t help feeling a touch of irony that even today the only signal coming out of that building is a beacon and not a full-blown ham radio station as of yesteryear. I mean, come on, this is 21st century USA and nobody (within power or know-how) can organize a basic 4U1UN shack? What’s the issue? Can the ARRL not help?

I have read the “Administration” in charge is the problem with regards no available room or shack space, but who really knows? It appears rather “closed-shop” with no real meaningful response from those within the 4U1UN circle as to why this most wanted DXCC in mainland USA is not active.

Is there much point to 4U1UN being a DXCC entity if the powers-that-be can’t even borrow or rent a room within the UN Building to operate a simple ham radio station?

Another question could be: Which will be activated next…P5 or 4U1UN ?!

Helpful or insightful replies welcome.

73 Col MM0NDX @ DX-World.net

36 COMMENTS

  1. Many of us waiting in the wings to help. @ James – how can we join or help? A paid membership will get funds going thus enable more to be involved.

  2. I guess that this is just too complex an issue as membership on the decline to determine outcome.
    So if membership is in decline and free, simply as for those of us interested to join. Would membership of 300 hundred be of any significance? Where do i join? Ask for donations.

  3. After reading that I feel privileged to have worked them and QSL’ed back in the 90’s.
    I hope they can get back on the air for others to work and me too with my advanced call sign.

    73 Bernie VK4KX

  4. Agree, Chip. I emailed James regarding this because I think if some fundraising can be achieved this could help long term.
    James, please let us know how we can help.

    73 Col MM0NDX @ DX-World

  5. Yes, it does indeed seem odd that New York City’s UN is a ‘rare one’. But I think the story we are getting from K2QI rings true to the bone.

    Sounds like some donations may help: what is needed; how to get funds to 4U1UN?

    Thanks James!

  6. Great work James. Thanks for the update. Plenty in VK need an ATNO but I’m sure you know that 🙂

    Good luck with the antennas.

    73 Graham VK3GA

  7. Thanks for your efforts, James. Sounds like you have been making real progress behind the scene. Would be great to work 4U1UN on 6 meters during next June’s Es season if equipment for that band is in the cards 😉

  8. With regards to remote, the operators will still be inside the UN proper. Just now, everything will be done by IP where the control heads are located on the first floor and the transceiver on the 41st floor to minimize coax length to the antennas. There will be no true remote operations of the station from outside the compound as dictated by current UN network security protocols.

    On the other hand, while the booth we’ve been loaned is significantly smaller than our previous location (2 man capable), once up and running, we should be able to bring guest operators in from time to time.

    73
    James K2QI

  9. vk3ga Graham

    Although a remote arrangement would work well it is my understanding that any qsos made would not be legal for DXCC purposes. That said, the ARRL is pretty lax in applying its rules so nobody will probably care one way or the other. I was led to believe that if the operator is in one DXCC entity (ie the USA) and controlling a remote in another DXCC entity (4u1un) then the qsos would not be valid.

    Cheers

    Paul – vk4ma

  10. Thanks a lot, James, that sounds encouraging. Sure there is demand for all modes. Make all the plans as solid as you can to keep it going long term. GL
    Russ K5OA

  11. I’m the current president of UNARC/4U1UN. What Doug wrote is true; red tape has hampered the club’s return to the air. It’s taken us years just to get the administration and security to allow us to resume beacon operations. Security protocols became much tighter after 9/11. And when renovations the the Secretariat were completed, staff were no longer permitted to engage in any activities above the SG’s floor.

    That said, we’re slowly working to restore operations. Unfortunately, fully manned ops from the old 41st floor annex is now a bygone conclusion. Any such activity from the club will have to be done remotely from a broadcast booth that was loaned to us by the UN’s broadcast services section. The good news however is that new equipment was recently donated to the club that would make that a reality. The transceiver, amplifier, and associated network equipment is now in place. We also had a dedicated closed network line installed primarily for that purpose. The only remaining thing left to do is install the antenna and begin testing which should be happening sometime in early August.

    I know many have been waiting for the return of 4U1UN. No one wants to see it back on the air more than I do, but please understand that support for amateur radio operations by the administration has waned over the years. To get where we are today took a lot of cajoling and negotiation. On top of that, the club’s membership has also reduced in number, and with everything at the UN now requiring funding, the club simply doesn’t have the budget to pay for services that once used to provided for free. The past 10 years has essentially been a one man show. It doesn’t help that my workload has increased significantly requiring me to travel much more frequently than before, taking even more time away from being able to manage the club’s affairs.

    To all those waiting to hear from us, I sincerely apologise and ask that you be a little more patient. But I do promise that 4U1UN will be back on the air soon.

    73,
    James K2QI

  12. Doug, thanks for your enlightening information.

    The situation at the moment could be resolved using remote hardware from RemoteRig, a Dovado router and USB cellphone data dongle. Such a system would provide SSB/CW/RTTY and FT8 capability, cost less than US$1000, require no PC or LAN connection at the UN, and utilise the existing antenna and rig. I’ve used this configuration for my remote site for over a year and it never fails. It is not an “open” internet remote. Club members and their guest ops could operate such a system from inside the UN or from your office!

    I’m on holidays at the moment, but will email you a more detailed description and cost which might get your “contacts” interested, even if only as a temporary solution until they get their shack back (which I hope one day will come true).

    73 Graham VK3GA

  13. I don’t see a problem here. I have worked this entity in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2015. 7 bands, 3 modes. There were at least 4 different operations from the UN in the past 11 years, far more than from many other very rare entities. I don’t understand when HAM’s complain (especially in NA) how they never had a chance to work 4U1UN. Maybe the problem is you, your station, your antennas. Being QRV when the DX is, definitely helps too!
    If it’s easy, it ain’t fun!

    73 Dragan K0AP

  14. Hi….
    As one who has operated from the last two big operations from 4U1UN, I can shed some light.

    During the last CQWW operation we did (don’t remember the year…look it up), we operated from the “top floor of the “tall” UN building. It was great.

    After that, the UN renovated that floor. The ham shack was part of the “recreation” floor.

    After renovations (so I’m told, I’m not part of the UN), when they went to move the gear back into the shack, well, there was no shack. The UN had no record of a ham shack and so no space was allocated.

    During a more recent CQWW contest, we operated “field day” style in the rose garden between the UN general assembly building and the East River, partially over the FDR Drive (major highway in NYC). We did not operate the CQWW Contest, but concentrated on the WARC bands and “cross mode” on (for example) 15m (not in the contest).

    What I’m told is that the UN (not the US) is not allocating any space to the UN club since they don’t have record of the ham shack being there and renovations are done. I’ve heard talk (first-hand from UN hams) of moving to the library (in the much shorter building “to the south” of the “tall” building, but after years, still nothing.

    I work in NYC (live in NNJ) and my office is just a couple blocks from the UN. I have volunteered to help out, to move things along, to resource equipment (which they already have) but not being a UN staffer, volunteer to help is about all I can do (and my offer still stands).

    When I look out of the east side of my office building in Manhattan, I see the general assembly building, just 3 blocks east from my office – and over that low roof, the East River is plainly visible. I can almost touch it….pity.

    I’d love to see an antenna back up on the “tall” UN building and we can remote in from the UN Library room, or anywhere else on the UN grounds.

    I won’t share my “contacts” on the UN for obvious reasons.

    If you want to blame something, I suggest “red tape” issues.

    de Doug KR2Q

  15. Even when there was a nice station there it was almost impossible to receive an invitation to operate. It mostly sat idle.
    You can imagine that just about every dxer/contester in the NYC region wanted to get in there, and that is still the case. I was fortunate to operate there two times courtesy of invitations. Unfortunately each time I had to leave by 5pm (started at 8am) so only 10-20m. I was trying to get so many stations logged that I didn’t eat or go to the bathroom which amazed my host. Good memories. I’d be happy to go back 🙂
    Wa2vuy

  16. Nice comments by all. The summary of why no ham radio operation. The UN bureaucrats don’t want “hams” in the building.
    Obviously for years the American influence at the UN has diminished. It is going to take some pressure by other countries to lobby UN leaders to get a meaningful ham radio presence there again.
    73

  17. Possibly we will even loose the beacon when trying to re-establish a station in this building of an organization, completely financed by our tax money? I remember when 4U1UN was active as an important emergency HF link to the Caribbean after a hurricane severely struck Jamaica. Even if they do not want to support our hobby, they should at least have their own HF station for emergency communications.

  18. Great to see a discussion on this entity Col. ATNO for me. I’ve posted a message on eham.net to try and help rattle something loose.

    Graham VK3GA

  19. It is rather ironic that an organisation that’s called United Nations cant support a hobby that unites nations.

  20. I rather wait 10 years, than to have 4U1UN as yet another remote operated DXCC.
    Remotes are destroying the fun of the DXCC chase.

  21. Paul, I think the simpler explanation is that U.S.-based hams on the whole couldn’t give a hoot about IOTA. I don’t know anybody in my contesting or DX clubs that chases IOTA seriously, and those are some top-of-the-Honor-Roll name brand operators. It’s just not a “thing” here for whatever reason, not unlike soccer/footy.

    I, too, lament the lack of U.S. operators activating semi-rare entities. Sure, we get a regular stream going to places like Easter Island and Juan Fernandez, FP, CY9, CY0, etc, but I’m not seeing too many Ws activating the hard-to-work-from-the-US entities in Africa, and in Zones 23, 24, 26, and 28 in Asia. Especially on the lowbands. A big DXpedition focused on 80 and 160 from those zones that are nearly impossible from zones 3, 4 & 5 would be most welcome!

    Another factor is that travel within North America is *significantly* more expensive than it is within Europe, and from N.A. to other continents, even in the lowest classes of airfare, it’s beyond the reach of an awful lot of people here. Rising costs of living and stagnant incomes have hit us older dudes pretty hard; I can’t afford to be part of a DXpedition, and I likely never will unless I win the lottery. I’ve wanted to go and operate from V5 and A2 for years, but the budget to do it is so far beyond what I can afford that it may as well be BS7 or M0ON.

  22. Because de international character of UN, I bet it is not fair to load all responsability over K shoulders. As power by in the world, I think fellows from B, F, G and R ( also security council members ) could also push over your authorities to resolve this real emergency ( HI )

  23. I think the 4u1un lack of activity is evidence of the declining interest in dxpeditioning by US based hams. It seems that unless a dxpedition involves a budget involving hundreds of thousands of dollars then the US based hams are simply not interested. Possibly this is related to the ageing profile of the previous dxpeditioner Hall of famers and the fact they have not been replaced by new dxpeditioning enthusiasts.

    The situation is particularly self evident when we look at the IOTA world. The Russian guys are regularly activating their island groups which are far more isolated and extreme than most of the North American islands. The Russians have activated all of their qualifying groups. The US by contrast has a swag of never activated groups and others that have only been activated once such as the group just off the Oregon coast or many in Alaska or even Mexico.

    Possibly with old age now a factor those holiday dxpeditions down to a Carribbean Island hotel are just a little more appealing?

    I guess totalitarian governments are also an issue …….inability to obtain operating approval was once a problem associated with Marxist or dictatorial governments. Now the USA is the place where getting approval to operate from rare DXCC / IOTA entities is more difficult than any other. The Cold War was won but the Greeny totalitarians are seemingly in control in the good ol USA. I would of the thought that things may have loosened up a bit with Mr Trump at the helm. He does not strike me as being a raving Greeny. US hams seem to find it easier to operate from Canadian islands (ala NA-207 this week) than islands under their own territorial control.

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  24. Given that there’s an active beacon transmitter in a closet and an antenna back atop the roof, I can only assume someone from the staff is still involved and is authorized access to that closet. Why not set up that Icom 7200 as a remote, even if its only on the band where the beacon antenna is resonant? Why continue to ask for operating space (e.g., desk/table for people) if it can be operated from outside the building? IIRC, operation does NOT have to be on the UN grounds and can still be valid.

  25. Sorry Peter, foreign embassies are not sovereign soil of the represented nation ( a common misconception), rather they are governed under the jurisdiction of the host state while being afforded special privileges (such as immunity from most local laws) by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

  26. From the comments that I have read over the past decade, those with access don’t want to rock the UN boat because they are in the UN boat. And the UN doesn’t see the need for it fundamentally. Its definitely NOT a US issue. Most of those with access that could possibly do something aren’t even American.

    Ed N1UR

  27. I get all that, Pete, and I’m sure many readers do too. Thanks again for your reasoned replies.

    My example would be that previously we saw quite a few well known / famous / in-the-know ops who seemingly had no problems to operate from “old” 4U1UN HQ. Those same hams today, in my eyes some quite persuasive, appear not to want to try break down the barriers that currently exist to enable others to have the same operating satisfaction as they had.

    4U70UN occurred in 2015. What happened since that nobody linked to that callsign cannot re-start discussions about a new 4U1xx activity – even again on the grounds of the building?

    My counter-argument would be that American hams are pretty clued-up when it comes to getting permission to activate or operate from very rare entities such as KH1, so why can’t a dedicated group of American hams try to, in their own backyard, organize or set-up a 4U1UN station with UN blessing?

  28. @DX-World, the thing of it is, it’s *not* on American Soil by law, just as national embassies are considered sovereign to their respective nations. If you’re in the U.K. embassy in Argentina, you’re on British Soil and governed by British law. The U.N. operates the same in the U.S. Basically they do what they like and the U.S. and NYC governments have zero say in the matter. This includes millions of dollars in parking fines since they are not subject to NYC/US law thanks to “diplomatic immunity”.

    So basically local hams cannot just go and setup equipment in the U.N. building or on it’s grounds without permission from the United Nations, since it’s not U.S. soil (legally-speaking). It would be up to licensed U.N. employees to arrange for operating permission, and at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be anybody there interested in doing it, or if there is, U.N. hierarchy is saying no.

    If permission could be granted and non-U.N. employees allowed to operate, I guarantee that you’d have potential operators lined up out the door, all prepared to pay out of their own pockets for the necessary permits and paid security escorts. But it’s the U.N.’s call, 100%.

  29. So true, I have been tripped up by the Beacon on 14,100 a number of times. I need it for # 322 on CW and you might be right we might see P5 first!
    Come on guys go on the roof and operate something for a few days make it a camp out at the UN!

    Russ K5OA

  30. Thanks for insightful reply. Agreed, it has nothing to do with American hams per-se, but that building is located on American soil and that’s the cusp of it. Can’t a more regular 4U1UN activity be organised by American hams or those in the know? At #34 most wanted, that’s embarrassing if truth be told.

  31. This has nothing to do with the U.S.A. or American hams whatsoever. The U.N. building is its own independent entity in more than just the DXCC sense. The old hamshack was situated one floor above the Secretary General’s office and it was considered a security risk. Even when it was active, guest operators were required to be accompanied by U.N. personnel everywhere inside the building (including restrooms). When they re-did the roof they took the antennas off and basically that was that.

    I’m not sure there’s enough interest within the U.N. staff to do it, and I suspect it would be an uphill battle to get anything on the air again. I think the best that could be hoped for, at least in the short-term, would be authorization to set up temporarily on the grounds with a Field Day style of operation, like they did for CQWW a few years back.

    Believe me, every DXer in the region would be chomping at the bit to activate this entity if the U.N. would allow it to be activated, myself included.

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